Grouping and Syncing Domains on Authority Labs

Grouping and Syncing are two great features that have been released with our new interface. These are options that are especially helpful for accounts with multiple domains. Grouping is used to organize the domains, while Syncing is used for concatenating keywords across more than one domain.

Grouping Domains

Grouping domains will allow you to perform actions to multiple domains in that group. You can group domains together by clicking the check box next to the domains. Select two or more domains and you will see the domain actions panel on the left of your screen. Check out our support page for a full video tutorial on how to group domains.

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You will have the option to Group, Ungroup or Delete those domains. Click “Group” and those domains will then be lumped together on the dashboard from then on. You also have the option to name the group. I named mine “Shopping”, and it’s as simple as that.

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Syncing Domains

After grouping your domains you have the option to sync them. When the domains are synced so are the keywords. So anytime you add or delete keywords in a synced group it will be reflected in each domain in that group. Check out our support page for a full video tutorial on how to sync domains.

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NOTE: To unsync your domains click on the syncing button again so that it turns from green to grey.

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An awesome aspect of syncing a group is that you get to compare the domains in the group. This comes in handy when you’re trying the track out a domain preforms in different city.

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To navigate to this option just click on the group name.

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Here I am able to compare keywords for Olive Garden in Orlando, Phoenix and other cities or zip codes. But, you can also compare competing domains with this option, as long as they are in the same synced group.

How These Options Can Help You

Grouping can help organize your domains, whether you use this to group similar domains, competing domains, or even the same domain in different locations. Syncing will allow you to concatenate all keywords over multiple domains. It also allows you to compare multiple keyword rankings across the domains in the group. I would highly recommend syncing and grouping some of your domains.

Training Videos Released

These past few weeks have been very exciting for the AL team! With the release of the new interface and now we are excited to announce the release of a series of training videos. The videos are 1-5 minute screencasts on how to work with the new interface and more videos are on the way.

Authority Labs wants all of our customers to have all the help they need. Please let us know what you think of the videos and let us know what you need more help with. We appreciate the feedback!

Here are some of the latest topics released:

The new tutorial video list is available on the Support Page and future videos will be listed there as well. You can view all of our videos in one place on the Tutorial Videos Playlist via YouTube.

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6 Fatal Customer Relations Mistakes

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Customer relations is one of the most important parts of any business, and there’s plenty of room to make mistakes. When customer service goes bad, the entire company can quickly feel the effects. It can be challenging to bounce back from a bad customer service event, because the company’s reputation has been marred.

Customer service shouldn’t be a gamble; in fact, the owners and managers are in complete control. It’s too easy to let things slip through the cracks, however. Consider these six all-to-common fatal customer relations mistakes. Even one of these gaffes can be enough to send a company down the drain.

1. Poor Training

Customer service issues are almost always the fault of management, and it starts with poor (or zero) training. Every new employee needs to be trained on proper customer service, and veteran employees can benefit from ongoing training. Just because a person was a killer customer service rep at a previous company doesn’t mean he’ll know how to handle things in the new position. Make sure training SOP is in place, and follow it to the letter.

2. No Followup

Often, customers reach out to a company because they want to be heard and appreciated. All that’s required is speedy followup and a rep who truly cares about their satisfaction. An ignored email, unreturned phone call, or any other form of professional cold shoulder doesn’t just have an impact on that one customer. With so many options for online reviews these days, more customers are heading online to complain when they’re ignored. And that can cost you dearly.

3. A Bad Attitude

Smiling over the phone really does work, and customers can instantly sense when a CSR doesn’t want to talk to them. A single morning of poor mood can spiral into a customer relations disaster when it doesn’t need to be that way. Remind employees daily that their attitude makes all the difference, and encourage mental health days (preferably paid) when they’re really necessary. When the going gets tough for your CSRs, help them separate work and personal life.

4. “Please hold …”

Customers want to talk to a live person without having to know a secret code to make it happen. Similarly, getting handed from one department to another makes your business look disorganized and seem as if nobody wants to help customers. A quick response time is essential, and this is something that needs to happen from management down.

5. No Solution

Ideally, CSRs should always have a solution handy. If they get stuck, they should turn to a supervisor. No customer deserves to hear “I don’t know,” or “What do you want me to do about it?” That’s not for the customer to figure out; it’s for the CSR to deliver. Businesses should have protocols for every situation, but if a CSR can’t find a solution he or she should do everything possible to get help.

6. An Upsell

Upsells are only appropriate in very specific circumstances. If someone is calling because she lost her debit card, she’s already frantic and doesn’t want to be sold another savings account. Focus on service first, not selling, and try to keep the two separated. Customers will appreciate it, and they’re more likely to reach out (possibly for future sales) if they don’t feel like they’re walking into an old-school used car lot.

Reaching out to customers is both a skill and a talent. It’s a requirement if businesses want to grow, and it should be at the forefront of customer service. Whether it involves following up on a request or making sure the customer is truly satisfied, you should reach out without any ulterior motive in mind.

4 Reasons Google Plus for Small Business Is Required

Little more than a year ago, small businesses could argue that they didn’t need Google Plus (Google+). The social networking site just didn’t have the users and activity of Facebook, so it wasn’t worth the effort. Things have changed since then. If you doubt that, just consider these 4 reasons all small businesses need Google Plus.

1. Google Plus Integrates Other Google Features

Image via Flickr by Telendro

Google is the only company that currently has the ability to integrate hundreds of features into one social network.

You know the frustration of finding a restaurant on Facebook, but having no way to get directions from your house to the restaurant without first copying the address and going to another website (probably Google Maps)?

That doesn’t exist with Google Plus because Google Maps is right there for you to use.

In a world where customers would rather find a new business than go through the steps of finding your location, it makes sense to have a presence on Google Plus.

2. Google Hangouts Reduce Travel Expenses

A small business that has offices in several cities faces a difficult problem: how do you coordinate activities between groups without spending a lot of money on travel?

Google Plus has the solution with Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts makes it easy for you to host brainstorming sessions and video conferences without wasting money. You don’t have to pay for plane tickets, hotel rooms, or per diem expenses. As long as you have a webcam, you’re good to go.

3. Google Plus is Growing, and It’s Just Getting Started

As of June 2012, Gmail had about 425 million users. Google could have easily forced all of those users into becoming Google Plus users. Although the company definitely gave Gmail account users plenty of opportunities to join, but the company never forced its devotees to do so.

Why does this matter? Because it shows that Google Plus isn’t interested in grabbing a huge chunk of the social media world as quickly as possible. It’s quite comfortable sitting back, building its applications, and letting people come to it.

Google Plus is just getting started. It makes sense for small businesses to get in now before the service experiences a big explosion. It’s coming. The question is whether you will get on before or after.

4. Joining Google Plus Gives You More Authority

Google Plus might not have as many users as Facebook, but the people who have joined know what they’re doing.

More than any company, Google determines which websites succeed and fail. When’s the last time you used Yahoo! to search the Web? Joining Google Plus could, very soon, play a part in how your page gets ranked.

Google recently added blogger authority to its ranking algorithm so that popular writers have more influence than those who don’t publish often.

By joining Google Plus, bloggers can help Google keep track of their posts. That helps small businesses improve their page rankings. It’s a little sneaky, but this will have a big influence over who joins Google Plus in the upcoming year.

What are some other reasons you think small businesses should join Google Plus?

Putting Together an SEO Team

SEO teamWhether you’re trying to put together your own firm or setting up an in-house team, building an SEO group is hard work. Every situation is different, and it would be impossible to cover everything in a single article, but it’s best to go into this with a road plan. Here are the essentials you need to know in order to get started.

Who You Need

When you’re hiring employees to meet SEO demands, realize that you’re looking for more than a job title. Universities don’t give away SEO degrees, and most of the people with the skill set you need have probably never even heard of search engine optimization, or at least given it any serious attention. With that in mind, here are a few ideas.

1. The SEO Consultant

While most of the people on your team won’t even need to know what SEO is before getting started, you will need at least one person who is very knowledgeable about the subject. Despite all the advances in the search engines to focus on branded sites, it’s still important to have technical knowledge of how the search engines work.

If necessary, you may outsource to an SEO consultant who works with many clients, as most people do, in order to train your team. In-house SEO consultants do not come cheap. The downside of training, of course, is that you will still be lacking in expertise if you do not have a full-time in-house SEO. It may be necessary to work with the consultant on an ongoing basis for quite some time before your team is able to take care of itself. Keep this in mind.

Your SEO consultant should understand concepts like domain authority, link building, keyword research, and search engine updates. They should be able to train your team on the difference between artificial search engine results (which are likely to be lost in future updates), and natural search engine results (which should stay successful over the long haul).

2. The Project Manager

The SEO consultant isn’t necessarily the best person for this job, although they often are. The project manager sets goals for the SEO team, goals that are often more business-centric than the goals an SEO consultant might set. The project manager should understand how to build company culture in order to unify SEO and branding efforts.

Oddly enough, the project manager of an SEO team doesn’t necessarily need to have tremendous experience with SEO, provided they have a close and trusted SEO consultant. However, the project manager should have marketing experience, preferably some experience with digital marketing. A social media marketer is likely your best bet, though you shouldn’t necessarily discount somebody who worked with pay-per-click ads. An email marketer can also be a good bet.

3. Content Creators

Nearly every sound SEO strategy places a central focus on content, because the penultimate goal of SEO is to establish your brand as an authority in the topics that are relevant to your target audience. Content creators can be hard to find, in large part because very few of your ideal employees in this area will be seeking jobs in marketing.

Your best bet here is to simply hire people who are already attracting attention online with their content. Rather than putting out a job listing or browsing the online marketing forums, try doing a Google search. Look for bloggers who have a decently sized audience, a natural link profile, and a consistent posting schedule. Ideally, hire bloggers who already write about topics relevant to your target audience, and who will fit your company culture. If you can, purchase their blog as well, and redirect it to your site. This will work wonders for SEO and audience building.

The same goes for any other type of content creator, whether it’s a graphic designer, a video specialist, or a photographer. Don’t focus on working with “marketers.” Just focus on people who have built an online following.

4. Outreach Specialists

Relationships are just as crucial to attracting online attention as content, if not more, so outreach is a must-have. Your outreach specialists will be contacting prospects for link building opportunities, building online relationships with influential people, and interacting with customers and audience members for online culture building.

Again, your outreach specialists don’t necessarily need to know anything about search engine optimization before you hire them. Look for people who have a strong social media and online forum presence. The key is to work with people who love to interact with strangers online, and who have managed to build solid relationships by doing so. Any experience with customer service or telemarketing is also a major bonus.

5. Analysts

Finally, you’ll need at least one data expert who knows how to measure results. Somebody with some SEO knowledge is preferable, but the primary focus should be on their ability to tease out insights from data. If need be, your SEO consultant can train them.

Your analyst’s primary job will be to analyze SEO processes and determine which ones are having the most impact. Statisticians and market researchers are a good fit. Economists, financial experts, and even many engineers should also be able to tackle the job effectively. The important thing to look for is the ability to work with large data sets and separate cause from effect.

Your analyst should be able to help you identify which strategies are most effective at building links, leading to conversions, building traffic, and so on. Somebody with a bit of coding experience and the ability to set up split-tests would be ideal.

A Few Things to Understand About SEO

There’s no way to cover everything you need to know about SEO right now, but there are a few crucial things you need to get before you even start taking steps toward building a team:

  1. SEO is not Cookie Cutter – This is probably obvious from the job descriptions above, but there’s no linear solution to SEO problems. SEO campaigns require both technical and creative skills, and must consider branding as well.
  2. SEO “Packages” Don’t Work – Search engine optimization is a dynamic process that must adapt to your brand, and the way that search engines and online culture change over time. Simply buying a package of links, even “hand built” ones, doesn’t get the job done.
  3. The Principle Goal of SEO is Thought Leadership – Search engines work by trying to identify the most influential and relevant page on the web every time somebody performs a search. It’s important to meet those requirements both technically and qualitatively in order to be successful today and tomorrow.

Keep these three ideas in mind as you put together your team.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Yuri Arcurs

5 Ways To Use LinkedIn To Get More Local Business

Many small businesses shy away from social media, thinking there’s no way a global platform can be effective for promoting a local company. Nothing could be less true. Your customers aren’t turning to the yellow pages to find you anymore – they’re using search engines and social networking to find what they need. LinkedIn has the professional prestige lacking in many social media, making it ideal for promoting your business interests.

1. Get Recommendations From Customers

Image via Flickr by Simon Blackley

The most powerful form of advertising is word of mouth. When a trusted resource tells someone you’re good at what you do and are trustworthy, you can enter into the new relationship with them on the right foot. Without this referral, you have to prove yourselves every step of the way. When your customers are happy with your work, have them write about the experience on LinkedIn. Their referral gets published on your profile and is sent to their entire network. It’s advertising at it’s best.

2. Stay in Touch With Customers

Image via Flickr by San Jose Library

The focus of LinkedIn on business eliminates a lot of the clutter that drowns out your messages on many other social media. Instead of competing with a thousand messages about what’s for dinner, cute kitty photos, and political rants, you can craft concise messages to your customers, keeping a strong relationship alive. Sync your LinkedIn account with your other social media accounts, such as Twitter, for the best response.

3. Build a Network of Associates

Image via Flickr by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget

LinkedIn is an excellent resource for finding industry associations you should be a part of. These associations establish credibility and lead to more referrals. LinkedIn is also a great place to find industry events to promote your business locally, such as trade shows, home and garden shows, and health fairs. These local events give you face to face time with local customers in need of your services.

4. Establish Yourself as the Local Expert

Image via Flickr by MDGovpics

Use your LinkedIn page to offer free and sound advice in your area of expertise. The best way to do this is by starting a blog and sharing all your blog posts on your LinkedIn feed. For example, if you’re a trade show display business, write a blog post once or twice per week on trade show marketing and custom trade show displays.

If you’re a plumber, tell customers how to protect their pipes from freezing, write a how to on DIY repairs and inform them on how often to maintain their septic tanks. This establishes you as a trusted industry expert, and you’ll be the first one they call when they need work. If you’re uncomfortable with your writing skills, hire a professional blog writer.

5. Rank Better on Search Engines

Image via Flickr by thms.nl

Businesses with social media pages such as LinkedIn rank better with search engines than those with only websites. This is because people can like and share these posts, meaning they bring value to many more people than a stagnant website. After you’ve set up your LinkedIn account, networked with others, and post your blog entries, you’ll notice a marked improvement in your search engine results.

Social media like LinkedIn reach further than local advertisements, but it’s still a very effective way to become an industry leader in your hometown.